When Are Things Bad Enough To Leave?

13 Dec 2016

The three measures

When are things bad enough to leave an emotionally abusive relationship?

When are things bad enough to leave? is something that emotionally abused women always ask themselves.

The three measures that a woman commonly uses to establish to establish if things are bad enough to leave are

#1 When the children  will be able to cope better – i.e. when they are older.

#2 When she can afford to leave.

#3 When she hits rock bottom.

#1 When the children can cope better and are older is wonderfully heroic and noble. (I’ve been there, and done that, myself.) However, it assumes that the children will be best served by growing up in an abusive home – providing that you parents can work together to keep the blinders on your offspring’s eyes. This is quite unlikely to be the case.

Unfortunately, as you already know, when it comes to an emotionally abusive partner,  he cannot be relied upon to leave the children out of the hostilities. Nor can he be trusted him to work in the best interests of his children. Ever. He may talk a great “caring parent” game. But when it comes to the reality of parenting, his behavior is selfish, controlling and moody.

#2 When she can afford to leave. Unfortunately, being in an emotionally abusive marriage comes at a massive emotional, and financial – compounding – cost. The longer she stays in that marriage, the less likely she is to come out of it with very much, at all. While you are in that marriage, the family’s financial fortunes may prosper. However the abused woman’s financial fortunes never do.  As an abusive partner sees is, what is his is his, and what is hers is his, also. In order to become financially solvent in her own right, chances are, she will need to leave.

#3 When she hits rock bottom.  The problem with rock bottom it that it is a movable ‘feast’ as opposed to a fixed destination.  In an emotionally abusive relationship, there are always levels beneath what she previously thought was rock bottom.

When are things bad enough to leave?

So, when are things bad enough to leave?  How is a woman to know?

When I was in that situation, I spent quite a lot of time looking for “a sign”. The problem is, I didn’t know what that sign would like.  So, I overlooked rather a lot of signs. With the benefit of hindsight,   some of the important signs you really should not overlook when you’re wondering, are things bad enough to leave, are when

  • Your safety is at risk.
  • Your children’s physical and/or emotional safety is under threat.
  • You start to give up on yourself.
  • You feel at the end of your strength.
  • You tell yourself you are worthless and unlovable.
  • You think you are lucky to have him because he is the best man you could ever hope to get.
  • Friends and family are sick to death of hearing you complain about him and make excuses for him.

Most women feel like this a thousand times before they finally leave. There are an awful lot of moments when you look at your relationship and know that things are bad enough to leave.

Still, most women women miss, or pass up, an awful lot of these moments. They will put themselves through insane amounts of misery before they finally run out of “reasons” to give the relationship one last shot. They have a misguided belief that nursing the relationship back from the dead would be a beautiful, romantic, worthy thing to do.

In reality, trying to resuscitate a dead,-in-the-water, abusive relationship, is merely insane.  To paraphrase our illustrious British Prime Minister with her famous catchphrase, “Brexit means Brexit,” dead means dead. 

Good pointers to when to leave

There are plenty of good pointers to when to leave an abusive relationship. Things are bad enough to leave when,

  1. However it starts, you always end up having the same fight in which he hurls the same abuse at you.
  2. You feel unsafe because you know an attack could come at any time.
  3. Whatever happens – or doesn’t happen – everything will always be your fault.
  4. You feel isolated, and unsupported.
  5. He violates your trust every which way.
  6. He is physically and/or emotionally intimidating.
  7. You feel miserable most of the time.
  8. The thought of spending another decade, or two – or even more – fills you with horror.

Any one of these realizations is sufficient answer to the question, when are things bad enough to leave?  However, you won’t just have one or two of these realizations. You will, likely, recognise them all.

At this point, it pays to know yourself. Abused women can find any number of justifications for staying – even when staying is hell on wheels.

Instead of asking herself when are things bad enough to leave, an abused woman needs to focus on the 7 steps to getting out and moving on. These 7 steps are simple, although they may not be easy to take.

7 steps to getting out and moving on

Step #1  You admit to yourself that the relationship is abusive and that you do not have the power to change it into a healthy relationship.

 Step #2  You create a safe exit strategy for yourself and your children.  Do not waste your time and energy talking about what you intend to do with him.  He is not a reasonable adult.  Don’t expect him to respond like one.

Step #3  Don’t even listen to his Avoiding Divorce Script #1. It goes like this, “Darling, I’m so sorry.  Can’t we try again? I’ll be a good boy forever after.  I love you. I finally see what I was doing and, from now on, I’ll be totally different.” He won’t.  He really won’t.

Step #4 You make it your business to learn about how emotionally abusive relationships work and what has kept you hooked into one for so long.

Step #5 You stop blaming yourself for the failure of the relationship.  (This means NOT giving yourself a hard time for every mistake – or alleged mistake – you have ever made. That part of your life is O-V-E-R.)

Step #6  You start cutting yourself some slack. You need to commit to your own recovery and, at the same time, give yourself some time and space to sort your life out. It doesn’t have to happen yesterday.

Step #7 Make things as easy as possible for yourself.  Embark on an appropriate recovery program that will rebuild your self-worth fast. A program, like my “Can’t Get Him Out of My Head” program, is a great starting point.

The answer to the question, when are things bad enough to leave has to be, “They already are.” If you are even worrying about whether things are bad enough to leave that means they already are. However, the really important question is a different one.  That question is, “How can I guarantee I will recover after I leave?” The answer to that one is simple. Just do the right things, focus on your own recovery, and you won’t just recover, you will bless the day you left.


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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